Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: Young adult historical mystery
Published: By Hachette Audio on September 20th, 2016
ISBN13: 9780316273497 (US Hardcover edition)
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
I went into the book with unrealistic expectations because I had heard only rave reviews of this and its sequel. I read it as a part of a book club pick and perhaps the negative reviews of the people who read it with me also influenced my opinion.
This is one of the best examples of when the book was ruined for me because of the hype. The audiobook was a good way to experience the story, in my opinion. The narrator brought the characters to life really well and did a great job overall. Listening also helped smooth out the weak points of the writing, which I thought was not up to the mark or to my taste. The plot was also not as interesting as I expected. I had predicted the killer after about 20% of the book and it didn’t shock me at all as it follows the common formula of most mystery-thrillers. If the characters had had more of a personality, perhaps it could’ve kept me guessing for a while.
My biggest problem, however, was Audrey Rose. She describes herself as intelligent but it wasn’t “shown”. All the sleuthing she did seemed to be a tad too convenient. She constantly reminds the reader that she isn’t bogged down by the patriarchy and how different she is compared to other girls. I remember a tea-party scene where she is obnoxious and considers herself better than all girls present because they are interested in small and inconsequential things. This did not sit well with me at all, so I wouldn’t make the mistake of calling this a feminist book at all.
On the other hand, I really liked Thomas and I’m debating on trying the other books because I do want to read more about him. The relationship between Audrey and Thomas was also quite adorable and I was impressed Thomas’s attitude towards women (for a man from that time period). The other supporting characters didn’t seem fully fleshed out and I had a hard time relating to any of them. The setting was done well and I found myself transported to the dull grey of London in all of its menacing and terrifying glory of that time. I also liked that Audrey had an interest in forensic sciences and that whole part of the book was well-researched and executed. In conclusion, this book definitely has an interesting mix of genres and should have worked well but didn’t.
Readers just getting started with mysteries will probably find this more interesting than I did. For the music, I’d recommend the soundtrack of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because it has the perfect balance between creepy, mournful and fun, which is what this book aims to be. A cup of hot English tea would go very well as I don’t think the gory details and autopsy reports will help you keep any solid food down for long.
Have you read this book and if so, what are your thoughts on it? Do you have any YA mystery recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below.